When in 1989 the socialist system in Eastern Europe collapsed, ecological crisis and the longterm decline of cities played a key role in triggering popular rebellion of the citizens against the state. At that time, dust emission of more than 60 tons per sq.km per year were recorded in big East German cities such as Berlin, Halle and Leipzig. The Elbe river transported about 200 tons of arsenic and the same quantity of lead per year, and extremely polluted areas like the ‘silver sea’ near the Wolfen chemical company and the radioactively polluted region around Aue in Saxony were symbols of environmental degradation.1 The situation was not much better in other socialist countries and especially in the Soviet Union, even if detailed information is difficult to obtain for these countries as a result of the suppression of environmental data.2